I never really cared much for peanut brittle — that is, until an older gentleman introduced me to a recipe handed down to him long ago. He said he enjoyed making it at deer camp each year, and brought a batch to share at our workplace too. It was amazing! Crispy and delicious, it melts in your mouth, with nothing sticking to your teeth. Only 5 ingredients: peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and baking soda. The real secret though, according to him, is using a cast iron skillet and a wooden spoon.
He gave me the recipe, and for the last thirty years (until I, too, have become an older man) I’ve been producing quite a few batches each Christmas season. This would also make a wonderful handmade Valentine’s Day gift. It’s not difficult, takes no “stretching” of the brittle, and takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.
Ingredients/tools for each batch:
1 C. white sugar
1 C. karo syrup
1-½ C. raw peanuts (Must be RAW peanuts — available in bulk food stores)
¾ tsp. salt
1-½ tsp. baking soda
10” cast iron skillet
Hot pad for skillet handle
Greased cookie sheet or pizza pan
Scrubber for skillet
IMPORTANT – Before you start:
— Measure out the soda, and keep it on standby.
— Have a greased cookie sheet or pizza pan nearby on a hot pad.
— Make sure an empty kitchen sink is available or you will have scorched brittle in your skillet.
— Don’t forget a hot pad for the skillet handle so you can grab it quickly!
- Put all ingredients except soda into the skillet and turn the stove on high (for gas) or med-high (for electric).
- Stir occasionally as the ingredients begin heating up. Stir more often as it begins boiling.
- The brittle is nearing completion and ready for the soda when you notice these things: the color is turning amber, the peanuts begin splitting, and you can smell the roasting peanuts. (On my gas stove, it takes exactly twelve minutes.)
- Turn off the heat, add the soda, and stir rapidly, but not for long. The brittle will foam up nicely.
- Immediately, before it scorches, dump it onto the cookie sheet and let it spread out and settle down on its own.
- Put the skillet in the sink and fill it with hot water. The heat from the skillet and the hot water will very rapidly melt off the remaining brittle. Use a scrubber to easily finish cleaning it up, and you are ready for the next batch.
- Let the brittle cool. Turn the whole “cake” upside down on the cookie sheet, and crack it with the handle of a butter knife.
- Enjoy sharing with your Valentine.